Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Atlantic Monthly Press: Wandering Through Life: A Memoir by Donna Leon

TPG: Bramble, a new romantic imprint from Tor Publishing Group

Harper: Penance by Eliza Clark

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Carolrhoda Books (R): A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

Minotaur Books: When I'm Dead: A Black Harbor Novel by Hannah Morrissey


Beth Ineson New Executive Director of NEIBA

Beth Ineson

Beth Ineson has been named the new executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association. She will attend Winter Institute next week in Memphis, Tenn., with outgoing executive director Steve Fischer, who is retiring. On her return, she'll begin working at the NEIBA offices.

Ineson has more than 25 years of experience in the book business in New England, having worked at Yale University Press, Globe Pequot, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and America's Test Kitchen. She has been a bookseller, a rep and director of field sales and been a supporter of independent bookstores in all of her roles, NEIBA said. She's also an adjunct instructor in Emerson College's Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department and is a member of the board of advisors of the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University.

"Independent bookstores are the beating heart of the book business," Ineson commented. "I'm thrilled to be more actively involved in furthering this channel's role as the preeminent place to discover great books, find community, and nurture readers of every age."

NEIBA board president Laura Cummings, owner of White Birch Books, North Conway, N.H., called Ineson "the unanimous choice of the search committee and of the board and [someone who] brings a depth of experience that will serve the association well." She also thanked Fischer for being "very generous" in assisting NEIBA during the transition. "Beth will be able to garner a greater understanding of how NEIBA works and she'll be able to smoothly hit the ground running."

Shambhala: A Future We Can Love: How We Can Reverse the Climate Crisis with the Power of Our Hearts and Minds by Susan Bauer-Wu and Stephanie Higgs

Bookstore Sales Down 6% in November

November bookstore sales fell 6%, to $699 million, compared to November 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marks the fifth consecutive down month, after a four-month streak in which bookstore sales rose every month. For the first 11 months of 2017, bookstore sales were $9.5 billion, down 3.1% compared to the same period in 2016.

Total retail sales in November rose 6.6%, to $500.2 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 4.2%, to $5,192 billion.

The Census Bureau figures, which include a range of stores that sell books, differ significantly from results at indie bookstores. Earlier this month, the American Booksellers Association noted that "overall book sales across indie bookstores for 2017 increased 2.6% over 2016, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.4% over the past five years. In addition, the number of books sold in the indie channel during the week leading up to Christmas was the highest since NPD/BookScan began collecting that type of data."

Census Bureau figures parallel Barnes & Noble, whose sales fell 6.4% during the nine-week period ended December 30.

GLOW: Scribner: The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer

IBD 2018: Exclusive Items on Sale

The exclusive items for Independent Bookstore Day 2018 have been revealed and can be ordered now on IBD's website. The fourth-annual celebration of indie bookselling is scheduled for Saturday, April 28, and booksellers have until Friday, February 2, to place orders online. Those attending Winter Institute 13 in Memphis, Tenn., may place orders in person.

Some of the exclusive items for 2018 include:

  • A "Fight the Power" utility pouch, featuring a quote from Colson Whitehead's National Book Award speech and designed to look like the cover of his novel The Underground Railroad.

  • A signed special edition of Ungrateful Mammals, complete with a hand-drawn cover created by Dave Eggers and limited in quantity to five per store.

  • A signed special edition of the graphic novel Redlands, Vol. 1, written by Jordie Bellaire and illustrated by Vanessa Del Rey.

  • A print from the cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by author Samin Nosrat and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. The print features illustrated instructions on how to make mayonnaise and is signed by both Nosrat and MacNoughton.

  • A "Bad Citizen" graffiti stencil featuring a quote from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale: "Don't let the bastards grind you down."

  • A Book Club journal, featuring more than 45 recommended reading lists from booksellers and authors, including Martin Cruz Smith, Stephen King, Lauren Groff, John Waters, David Sedaris and more.

The complete catalogue can be found here.

Sourcebooks Landmark: Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

Eight Cousins Aims to Reopen This Spring

Eight Cousins bookstore, Falmouth, Mass., which is closed indefinitely because of water damage, "has been working with the landlord, the cleaners, the insurance companies, the contractors, and other local businesses," it wrote in a post on its website. "We still have lots of questions, but we're starting to regenerate." The store's goal is to reopen this spring.

In its post, owners Sara Hines, Mary Fran Buckley and Eileen Miskell recalled the sequence of events that began a week ago today. "On January 9th, at 9 a.m., Sara was the first person to walk into the store," where she saw the collapsed ceiling and deluge of water. (See photo, right.) "With quick calls to Mary Fran and Eileen, as you can imagine the morning was a lot of conversations. We oscillated between 'Do this!' and 'No, wait! Don't do that!' 'Do this!' Clean up? Leave everything alone? No one was sure. Call the insurance company, the landlord, the employees working that day, put a sign on the door, and let the customers know: that much we did know to do.

"Fortunately, the office experienced minimal damage and we started to pack up the servers, hard drives, and other accessories. Write it down. That's always the advice. Write it down. So we did. In a situation like this, it could have been better, but it also could have been worse and one thing that started to emerge is that we were prepared. Not for this damage on this day, but for various potential emergencies. As partners, we've had lots of those hard conversations over the years. What do we do if...? Although those conversations are never easy, they are vital. And now we know why.

"We met with our staff Tuesday evening. They were waiting for us at the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce (our emergency meeting point, by the way). At that time, we felt fairly certain that the store was gone, but the business is intact. We couldn't make any promises, instead we asked for time. Give us a couple of days to answer some of the big questions. We've been asking the same thing from our customers and friends in the publishing industry. The outpouring of support has been amazing and we appreciate you giving us that time to think, plan, and grieve."

Rough Guides: The Rough Guide to Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Places in Europe (Inspirational Rough Guides) by Rough Guides

The Literary Bookstore Opens in Morrisville, Vt.

The Literary bookstore, "selling new and used books, bread, and soup," has opened at 34 Pleasant St. in Morrisville, Vt., next door to the Food Co-op.

Owner Michael Isabell told Bookselling This Week that opening the store "was a dream he nurtured during his 30 years in carpentry and 20 years as a general contractor. An English major in college and an avid reader, Isabell said he's excited to share his love of books" as well as his cooking skills "when he opens the kitchen side of the business next week. The 700-square-foot store has room for six dining seats." Isabell said he's also selling locally crafted gifts and maple syrup.

RiverRun, Portsmouth, N.H., Moving Next Week

RiverRun's current location.

RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., is moving from its current location on Fleet Street to 32 Daniel Street. The store will close on January 22 and reopen in the new spot as early as January 26.

RiverRun described the new location as "sunny, but smaller than our current space," and still big enough to "cram the same number of titles in." It also will have the first "proper" office for Piscataqua Press (which "accounts for half our profits") and storage in the basement. The store will continue to sell new and used books as well as maintain an unusual sideline: buying, selling and repairing typewriters.

Although the current space has a "beautifully restored interior," Fleet Street itself is "dark, windy, and never gets proper snow removal. After five years, we still have a few people a week say, 'I didn't know you were over here!' "

The impetus for the move comes from a rent hike that would occur if RiverRun renewed its lease. The store emphasized that the landlord has been "very good to us," charging a below-market rent. "Understandably, in this booming city, that has to come to an end. We looked hard at our business and decided the best way to sustain RiverRun was to relocate."

Founded 16 years ago, RiverRun moved into its current space six years ago.


Patrick Ewing Leaving Book Business

Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing, longtime bookseller, sales rep and sales manager, has left the book business and is beginning to work for National Write Your Congressman, a national, nonpartisan company that seeks to educate small business owners about state and national legislation that may affect their businesses.

"I would like to thank all of the people, many of whom that have become friends, I have met over the years in the book business. It has been my honor and pleasure. I now move into a completely different realm," he said. "I believe that voter education is one of the most important issues of our times. I'm eagerly looking forward to my new career. But, I will miss this wonderful and unique industry of ours."

Ewing was most recently a rep for Barron's Educational Series. He began his book career at several independent bookstores in Denver before joining regional book wholesaler Gordon's in 1984 as a sales rep and later sales manager. After Gordon's was bought by Ingram in 1991, he was regional sales manager for the West at Ingram, until he left in 1996.

He then was a sales rep at William Morrow/Avon Books and worked at the Tattered Cover and Borders in Denver. After moving to New Mexico, he worked at Bookworks of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico Bookstore. He then moved to Portland, Ore., where he worked at Powell's Books and Boone Bridge Books before joining Barron's in 2007.

Ewing can be reached via e-mail.

Personnel Changes at Abrams; Workman

At Abrams:

Monica Shah has been promoted to executive director of special markets from director of special markets.

Andy Weiner has been promoted to national accounts director handling Amazon, wholesale clubs and West Coast local accounts. He was formerly national account and Western indy sales manager.
Stefanie Lindner has been promoted national accounts director handling mass merchandisers and Books-A-Million. She was formerly national accounts manager.


Effective January 29, at Workman Publishing:

Traci Todd will join the company as director of children's publishing. She has been editorial director of Abrams Appleseed and Children's Licensed Publishing. She began her career in educational publishing at Leapfrog, followed by McGraw-Hill and Heinemann-Raintree Publishing, Chronicle Boks and VIZ Media. She has also written A Story of Nina Simone, a picture book biography about the musician and activist, which will be published by Putnam, tentatively scheduled for 2021.

Sara Corbett will become the new art director of children's publishing. She worked in the Workman Publishing art department from 2009 to 2011 and returns to the company from Penguin Workshop, where she has been associate art director. She also has worked at Abrams, Polaris Images, ARTnews and the Pratt Institute.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Cay Johnston on Morning Joe

Morning Joe: David Cay Johnston, author of It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501174162). He will also appear today on All in With Chris Hayes and tomorrow on Hardball with Chris Matthews and CNN's New Day.

Megyn Kelly Today: Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving (Scribner, $26, 9781501181535).

Steve Harvey: Ashley Graham, co-author of A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like (Dey Street, $15.99, 9780062667953).

TV: The Handmaid's Tale, Season 2

First look photos and a teaser trailer have been released for season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale, the Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood's novel that was a big winner recently at the Golden Globes. Entertainment Weekly noted that season 1 ended "with Elisabeth Moss's Offred--whom we now know by her real name, June--pregnant and being taken away in a Gilead-controlled van, heading either to dire punishment for an act of rebellion or to freedom. But season 2 (which will premiere in April on Hulu) will enter uncharted territory, albeit with input from Atwood, who serves as a consulting producer on the series."

"The biggest barrier of season 2 was season 1," said showrunner Bruce Miller. "You sort of intimidate yourself. But at a certain point, you can't spend all your time second-guessing things. Instead, you just have to remember to try and tell a good story.... Margaret and I had started to talk about the shape of season 2 halfway through the first."

Miller revealed that "this season will explore the lives of the refugees (like Samira Wiley's Moira) who've been able to escape Gilead as well as those who have been exiled to the Colonies, the polluted and contaminated areas of North America," EW wrote.

"Everything from the design of their costumes to the way they look is so chilling," he said, adding that production benefited from real snow on set in Canada. "These scenes that are so beautiful, while set in such a terrible place, provide the kind of contrast that makes me happy."

Miller also noted that Moss "is such an incredible partner on this with me. Sometimes while writing the scripts, I just really wanted to surprise her. She's even better in season 2, if you can believe it."

Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Poetry; Jewish Quarterly Wingate

Ocean Vuong won the T.S. Eliot Prize, awarded annually to the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the U.K. and Ireland, for Night Sky With Exit Wounds. The Guardian reported that to mark the 25th anniversary of the prize, Vuong received £25,000 (about $34,515), up from £20,000 last year, "and will feature on a special U.K. postmark issued by Royal Mail."

Calling the winning collection "a compellingly assured debut, the definitive arrival of a significant voice," chair of judges Bill Herbert said, "There is an incredible power in the story of this collection. There is a mystery at the heart of the book about generational karma, this migrant figure coming to terms with his relationship with his past, his relationship with his father and his relationship with his sexuality. All of that is borne out in some quite extraordinary imagery. The view of the world from this book is quite stunning."


A shortlist has been unveiled for the £4,000 (about $5,520) Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize, celebrating works that demonstrate the "depth and diversity" of Jewish writing globally, the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced February 15. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Mighty Franks by Michael Frank
Small Pieces: A Book of Lamentations by Joanne Limburg
The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel's New Others by Mya Guarnieri Jaradat
The Holocaust by Laurence Rees
Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem & Jerusalem by George Prochnik

Book Review

Review: Call Me Zebra

Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 hardcover, 304p., 9780544944602, February 6, 2018)

The eponymous Zebra (née Bibi Abbas Abbas Hosseini) of Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi's second novel is a young raconteur in search of the sources of her intellectual family's wandering past and cultural legacy. Born in an erudite Iranian family under constant threat, she is smothered in learning--memorizing passages from influential world literature and assimilating a dozen languages before her teens. Her father reads her bedtime stories from Nietzsche, Dante and Kafka. Finally without options in its native land, her family uproots and begins a treacherous refugee journey through Turkey to Spain and ultimately to the "new world" of the United States.

Zebra loses her mother along the way, and her father dies when she is just 22 and a student at New York University. Call Me Zebra is the wildly imaginative story of her attempt to reverse her family's journey while toting the baggage of her parents' lessons and memories. She tells the sympathetic professor who gives her his unused sabbatical money, "I intend to dive into the lacunae of exile... to prolong this ridiculous habit of living just long enough to examine the landscapes we traversed during our long and brutal exodus." The professor arranges for a former student to take her under wing in Barcelona, and the enticing young Italian exile Ludo Bembo becomes the Sancho Panza to her Don Quixote. And so, her odyssey begins.

A Whiting Award-winner and MacDowell and Fulbright fellow, Oloomi (Fra Keeler) wears her weighty intellectual bona fides lightly. Call Me Zebra is a novel of philosophical curiosity, so it is awash in quotations and references. Calling herself the "Dame of the Void" and intent on probing the "Matrix of Literature," Zebra liberally fills her narrative with bits and pieces from literary luminaries--not just from classics like Cervantes, Homer and Nietzsche, but also from the more modern masters like Borges, Robbe-Grillet and even Kathy Acker and Paul Auster. She's a motor mouth of observation who often slips into the streets of Barcelona, and the smaller towns of Catalonia, to ramble on about Gaudí, Dali and Picasso. But Zebra is also a young woman with a healthy erotic appetite, and Ludo is more than happy to oblige. In her outspoken way, Zebra directs the maneuvers of their mating and (like Henry Miller) savors their earthy erogenous passion. When sentimental Ludo whispers the love word, she chastises him: "Love is a useless emotion that accomplishes little more than putting two people on a violent collision course from which they will never recover." 

Filled with literature, art and sex, Call Me Zebra is rambling and picaresque as quirky and funny as its rambunctious narrator. Its many digressions into philosophy and history are not obstacles--they are stepping-stones. Call Me Zebra is a grand story, but as Zebra describes herself when looking in a mirror, it is also "as troubling as literature, as disquieting as language itself." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: With a healthy dose of literary allusions and excerpts, Call Me Zebra is a vibrant novel of a young woman's odyssey into her family's legacy of exile and erudition.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Winter Whodunnits by Various
2. Wrath and Ruin by Various
3. Sirens and Scales by Various
4. Heroines and Hellions by Various
5. Sigils and Spells by Various
6. Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews
7. Whiskey Secrets by Carrie Ann Ryan
8. The British Knight by Louise Bay
9. The Molly Sutton Series by Nell Goddin
10. Magnolia Nights by Ashley Farley

[Many thanks to!]

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